Heading into Labor Day Weekend, what better time to highlight some of the league's hardest-working players than now?
GOAL: Diego Chara comes up big for Timbers
Once oft-overlooked and severely underappreciated outside of Portland, Chara has begun to receive kudos more proportional to his importance to the Timbers. His talent and impact is unlikely to ever be fully and properly valued due to the unglamorous defensive-midfield tasks he so expertly executes, but that's alright.
This season, Chara has been out of the starting lineup five times: The Timbers are 0-3-2 in those matches. With him? Portland are 11-4-5. That's good for 1.9 PPG and would currently top the Western Conference.
Pegged with huge defensive and attacking responsibilities alike, Afful fills a lot of roles for Columbus Crew SC. The Ghanaian international has started 25 of Columbus' 26 games this season and has chipped in a career-high five assists from his right back spot.
Tyler Adams: No Fear. Bright Future. | Game Changers
It'd be difficult to imagine a player better suited to play central midfield in the New York Red Bulls' press than Adams. The 19-year-old is indefatigable, constantly running with purpose and getting involved in every facet of the game. Adams leads the Red Bulls in total duels, interceptions and passes per game; he's second in fouls won and third in tackles and ball recoveries.
Speaking of players in the perfect role and system: Playing fullback in the Red Bulls' tactical vision can be a thankless task, but Lawrence makes it look easy. Heck, his nickname is Taxi.
The Jamaican international is asked to dominate the entire left flank for his team from endline to endline. Somehow, his engine seldom overheats as he careens from one end of the field to the other and back.
GOAL: Paul Arriola completes his brace
Arriola's dynamism helps keep D.C. United's attack fluid. He can be either a winger or No. 8, sometimes both in the same game. In United's busy stretch-run schedule, Arriola has started all five of their games in a 17-day period and is likely to make it six in 21 days against Atlanta United on Sunday (7:30 pm ET | FS1 – Full TV and streaming info).
That's clocking overtime.
How about some love for the hard-working center backs!
With another 82 minutes of league play this season, Marshall will have surpassed the 2,000-minute mark for the 13th time in his career. #AirMarshall leads the Seattle Sounders in aerial duels won and has even chipped in three goals this year.
GOAL: Benny Feilhaber equalizes immediately after LAFC concedes a goal
Like Marshall, Feilhaber has been great for a long time. He has arguably been LAFC's most important player in their inaugural season, starting each of their 26 games. He leads the Black & Gold in passes, through balls, duels, tackles, ball recoveries and fouls won.
Toronto FC's captain has had time out of the limelight this season with his side struggling to recapture 2017's historic form, but he's been churning along nonetheless.
Bradley has been a consistent presence for TFC since signing in 2014 and it has been all the more important this season, leading the team in minutes with a panoply of injuries around him.